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Showing posts from December, 2010

Opera: Tannhäuser

The hours seemed to fly by watching the Royal Opera's new production of Tannhäuser on Monday evening. The opera about man's dilemma between passion and purity is told on a grand scale with an enormous cast and all are in very fine voice. Johan Botha in the title role is the man unhappy with the excess of Venusburg and unsatisfied with harsh earthly realities. There is no pleasing some people I suppose, but he manages to give this story credibility and power throughout the four hours of the performance.

The production itself is minimal with the orgiastic excess of Venus's grotto Venusburg limited to the Royal Opera's velvet curtain and a rather large dining table. When a sensual and athletic ballet emerges from what started to look like a gala dinner at the opera you couldn't help but wonder if all opera fundraisers are that fun. If there was only one disappointment here it was thinking that Venus (the lovely Michaela Shuster) should not be in a dinner dress as it j…

Movies: Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti)

A rare trip to the cinema this week during the snow was also a chance to catch Ferzan Ozpetek's latest film Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti). It is a family comedy drama with a gay twist. It was well worth the trip out in the snow to see a film that was well acted and nicely shot.

But along with The Kids Are All Right, it is probably one of the few films playing at the moment that is worth venturing out in the snow to see (unless you have diabetes perhaps). It's playing at the moment at some sensible London cinemas.

Another look: Love Never Dies

It is nice to get out the week before Christmas and see a show. Particularly as an attempt to see La Boheme at the Cock Theatre Saturday was thwarted by too much snow. So as a break from the usual Christmas festivities, I took Gio and Bill to see a refreshed version of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre. As we left the theatre by one of the fire exits, we brushed past a man who resembled Andrew Lloyd Webber racing the other way. It most likely was ALW and Gio and Bill wanted to stop and chat / stare / gawk or do whatever fans do. I pushed on as there was nothing to see only the composer...

When I last caught Love Never Dies I was a little bit disappointed by the plot, the gloomy characters and the unintentional hilarity of it all. Nine months have passed and in what must be some sort of theatrical gestation, the production has been reworked and it is a substantial improvement. The story is clearer, the characters make more sense and things generally flow a bit better. There are e…

Theatre: On The Twentieth Century

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Tuesday night was an opportunity to catch the first preview of On The Twentieth Century at the Union Theatre. Cy Coleman's 1978 musical is set in the 1920s (or it could be the 1930s) where producer Oscar Jaffee is trying to score a hit again with his former leading lady, who has gone on to bigger success in the movies.

I had not previously seen this show, but over a pre-theatre fish and chips (or as they tend to call it in south London, fush and chups) at Masters Super Fish, Johnnyfox was waxing lyrical about how wonderfully rich and inventive the overture to the show was. So I felt his disappointment when the overture was arranged by musical director Oliver Jackson for a saxophone quartet and piano. It was still wonderful but not quite so rich. Actually throughout the show Johnnyfox was mostly singing along so I could sense it was going to be one of those evenings where I would be experiencing quite a lot of audience participation...

Anyway, this was the first preview and no do…

Overheard on the bus Monday evening

Man: There are elements of the play that just allow for those sorts of pathos...
Woman: Yes I would have to agree there
Man: Of course for other people it would be like oh yeah I would just rather watch Eastenders

Music: Andreas Scholl and Philippe Jaroussky

Purcell - Philippe Jaroussky,
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An evening with two countertenors might be one thing, but when they are Philippe Jaroussky and Andreas Scholl it makes for quite a night (albeit an androgynous one) at the Barbican. The countertenor is the twentieth century response to the castrati performers of past. But the arrival of some very talented (and rather good looking) men such as Scholl and Jaroussky has put this singing onto a whole other level.

I'm assuming the above video from a previous performance was posted on the internet by one of Jaroussky's groupies, who travel the world to see him perform (and reportedly go weak at the knees and post loads of clips on Youtube). The fan base is probably too sophisticated to throw knickers on stage at the end of the concert, but at Tuesday night's sold out performance there were plenty of fans of both men there, and they showed their appreciation instead through rapturous applau…

Opera: Adriana Lecouvreur

I finally managed to see la Gheorghiu perform in an opera. It was at Saturday's Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera. David McVicar's new production has received rave reviews, but seeing it for yourself is another matter. There was such anticipation ahead of Gheorghiu's first appearance, and she did not disappoint. And neither did anyone else in this production. In what at first appears to be a convoluted story, it boils down to a simple love triangle. Besides when Jonas Kaufmann and Gheorghiu are singing together, you are less concerned about the plot anyway. Filling out the triangle was Russian mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina who added to the fireworks.

Star power aside, this opera manages has a series of substantial supporting roles that draws out some excellent performances. It was hard to believe such a good cast and an elegant production could make such high melodrama feel so glamourous. The show has sold out this run (including with the alternate cast), however as it…

Semi-naked scenes from Kings Road Chelsea Saturday

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The weather outside was delightful, but perhaps going in budgie smugglers (tight speedos for those not versed in Australian) to do Christmas shopping was a step too far...

See and download the full gallery on posterous Posted via email from paulinlondon's posterous

Theatre: Grand Guignol

On a chilly Tuesday night, I caught a few thrills and chills with Johnnyfox at Theatre of the Damned's Grand Guignol, which is playing at the Etcetera Theatre above the Oxford Arms on Camden High Street. The Grand Guignol was a playhouse in Paris that for 65 years presented a series of grisly melodramas and cruel plays. It sounded like a smashing place but nowadays it is a term that is more generally used to refer to any sort of horror play. Cheap thrills aren't always easy to find at the theatre nowadays. The Southwark Playhouse does a good job with its Terror season, but it is nice to see there is also a production company dedicated to scaring the pants off audiences.

Presented here are three very fine plays that will alternatively make you jump or make you queasy. Given that, it is probably a good idea to go to the bathroom before it starts as if you wet yourself during the performance, there is no intermission.

The first play, Crime in a Madhouse, a young woman in an ins…